Sunday, September 28, 2008

Latest news from across the pond

Another shot from the older part of campus, originally West Yorkshire College

Wednesday--Department meeting and reception in evening. I really liked the lecturers and other students in my dept. They reminded me a lot of the group in Bath--very international, funny, and any conversation over a pint always comes around to politics.

Thursday--Not much, just did grocery shopping and watched BBC online. Here are some prices of groceries: loaf of wheat bread 1.25, 6 on-vine tomatoes 0.69, 1lb. pasta 0.78, 10 slices cheddar 1.59. BBC sitcoms are mostly junk, but I can't pull myself away...One in particular called "2 pints of lager and a packet of crisps" is really stupid but addictive. It's about 20-somethings in Runcorn, which is fairly near Liverpool. The characters are 1-dimensional, the plot is predictable, but for some reason I watched every available episode.

Friday--Got my bank account set up at the Barclay's branch near uni. Went to the student union shops and got my school supplies (notebook, pens, file folder) and this really tasty juice I used to get in Bath, Feel Good's Cranberry and Lime. In the evening I went to see "The Duchess" and had dinner and drinks around the corner at TigerTiger. The Duchess was good, but odd...surprisingly dirty and sensational, but I suppose how else are you going to get people to go to a movie about the Duchess of Devonshire?

Saturday--Realized that my wallet was missing. I remember having it in the cab on the way home, so I think I must've dropped it in the cab instead of putting it back in my purse. So, I called 20-some cab companies and the police station and checked with the sub-warden, and called to report my cards to Bank of America--they were really nice and helpful. So, after a very stressful day, the police have my info in case the wallet gets turned in, my cards are canceled and replacements are on their way. I'm so glad I did my grocery shopping on Thursday and topped up my mobile, and at least I still have my passport, keys, phone, etc. Also, I hadn't bought my bus pass or gotten my student ID card yet, so at least those aren't missing. All in all, it could've been worse, and it's all part of the adventure. I think my wallet's going to arrive at Mom's someday, months from now, because that's the only address that's in there.

Sunday--Tonight I'm meeting up with a friend who wants me to co-host a U.S. election special with him on student radio. He's modeling it on Olbermann's show with a countdown of major headlines mixed w/ our witty banter (I'll be like Maddow). So, if I get the job, it'd be great experience and fun to do.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monks, school and yogurt

Took care of registration stuff this morning, which was actually pretty fun. I'd been emailing with the program secretary and financial aid guy for months, so it was cool to finally put a face to the name. The secretary's very nice--exactly how I imagined her. She's slightly younger than the one in my dept. at Bath, but is just as friendly, informative, helpful, etc. The financial aid guy is adorable--and of course I'm delighted to meet anybody who's responsible for my money, 'cause I don't know what I'm doing.
After that, on my way out of the building I met a few girls in the department. One was an undergrad from India and the other two were postgrads in International Communications, so we'll have at least 1 class together (the thesis class). I was so glad to finally meet other postgrads after the whole freshman thing on Sunday night...

The Merry Monk, my local pub. Haven't been in yet, because there are always lots of middle-aged working-class men (and some rough-looking ladies) out in the beer garden and they intimidate me...but maybe next Sunday for Sunday Roast?

Main (and oldest) building on campus, the Great Hall.

My main source of sustenance, the always delicious Mueller fruit corner. They were on sale at Morrison's, so now I'm living off of them (and the occasional take-away sandwich or curry). Blackberry-raspberry is the best--cherry's alright, but doesn't have enough fruit in the corner...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Exploring Leeds

My desk--I love the huge bulletin board, but until I get some push pins, all it has on it is the fire safety info...

Obligatory pic of towel bale...they're not quite as soft as the ones from M&S, but how can you go wrong for a fiver?

The duvet cover. Don't know why the pattern's called "Mardi Gras"...It doesn't inspire me to flash anybody in exchange for beads.

Ceiling in Victoria Quarter

Another shot of Victoria Quarter. It's got lots of posh little boutiques, designers like Vivienne Westwood, etc.

Pedestrian-only shopping zone--one of my favorite things about Europe

Some old official building that isn't the City Hall ('cause that's further down...) But I was sitting in a park in front of it that's been rededicated to Nelson Mandela and has a lovely fountain.

The Dry Dock, a pub that doesn't just look like a boat--it is one!

The Corn Exchange. Didn't take any pics inside, but there's a big courtyard w/ tables and chairs and shops and stalls all around the circle...a bit like a circular mall w/ food court, only it's old.

Leeds City Market--Europe's largest indoor market. Cheap produce, but is it worth the crowds when you could just go to Morrisons (which is also quite cheap)?

The Arcade, the black iron part to the left, is an entrance to Victoria Quarter and the fancy stores, but the rest of the street had normal shops, like cell phone companies and Subway. I've seen more Subway shops than anything else in this town, some literally within a block of each other--it's like Seattle and Starbucks.

Another shot of Victoria Quarter. It's just gorgeous.

Another shot of the ceiling in Victoria Quarter.

Grayson Heights, my surprisingly nice dorm. Only downside is that it's so far from campus and the city. Took me about 30 min to walk to campus this morning, but what about when it's snowy? Definitely need a bus pass, even though they're pricey.

Leeds City Hall, built during Industrial Revolution

I've found my new job--"Leed's first lap dancing superclub opening here soon"

A building I thought was something noteworthy, but it was just a club...I'm sure it used to be something noteworthy, though.

This shot reinforces my belief that this town is such a mix of old and new. That modern glass and concrete thing and the crane really take away from the rest of the scene...

Back in England!

I'm spent! Just wanted to post a quick one tonight so you could see what my room looks like. Also, b/c I didn't make it to Carphone Warehouse before it closed (at 5!), so this is my way of checking in again.
Leeds is not conventionally pretty like Bath. It looks like Sheffield in The Full Monty--lots of dilapidated old brick rowhouses and council flats. Downtown has some lovely old buildings, but they're mixed in with newer attempts to rejuvenate the old industrial image. It isn't working...
Tomorrow I'll get pics around town and campus. Tonight I basically just unpacked and bought a few necessities at Morrisons and Dunns down the hill. There's a Boots in the shopping centre, too, so that's good. Morrisons had mostly groceries, but also some housewares that were clearly meant for college students--cheap ugly sheets, tiny little pots and pans, corkscrew/bottle opener combos...The other thing close to my dorm--a cute traditional old pub I'll have to check out. It's called "The Merry Monk" and has a drinking monk on the sign. I'll have to get a picture in the morning :)

It's way nicer than I expected--bigger than my room at home, even, and it has a double bed.

I've got a real closet, too! Full-sized! And the room smells like paint, which is a good sign.

I need to get a better shot of the desk--basically, it runs the whole wall opposite the bed. It's longer than the bed and has dresser/desk drawers and a little cupboard. The night stand has another little cupboard--the English love a good cupboard!

My view. The hill is gorgeous, but in the more immediate focus you'll note the council flats. The one w/ green accents looks just like Mr. Dudley & Ting Tong's place. I feel like popping over for some spring rolls...

The kitchen & bathrooms are alright--there are 2 1/2 baths, not just 1 1/2 like I thought, and one's right next to my room.
Since I'd mailed off the bedding request on Tuesday, I didn't have the bedding pack yet. I got a 2 pack of cheap pillows (you can't buy 1 cheap pillow--both stores I checked offered either 2 cheap or 1 expensive). I didn't want to get a duvet if I'll get one soon (also didn't want to haul it up the hill!) so I got a pack of pillowcases and a duvet cover. I'll use it like an extremely thin sleeping bag until my duvet comes...I'll give it a week (or just tonight, if I freeze).